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What Every Novice Translator Needs to Know

Tutorials » What Every Novice Translator Needs to Know

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what every novice

The importance of a good translation is oftentimes misunderstood and undermined. This can probably be attributed to the fact that if it’s done right, it’s not supposed to be noticeable at all that it was a translation. However, translation requires a lot of skill and thought. Translators must be able to resolve ambiguity, grasp subtlety and level of language, even follow the author's style, to be able to render an accurate and readable translation.

Some novice translators don’t always grasp this concept and believe that if they are “fluent” in two languages, then translation would be a piece of cake. However, that is not the case and most realize after a few tries that they need to sharpen their language and translation skills.

Perhaps taking a few classes or obtaining a degree in translation might be the way to go for novice translators. After which they will have to decide on what step to take in this vast field. So far, the main options are: working as a translator with an agency, a free-lance translator, or a staff translator.

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Two advantages of working for an agency are that it helps you to further develop skills and you may be able to build up a clientele. While agencies are known to pay lower wages, they allow a translator to fully concentrate on work, instead of spending precious time dealing with clients and looking for supporting documentation and dictionaries. Usually you can also get more consistent work, as agencies tend to have a larger returning-client customer base, and tend to want to stick to the same translators used for each client.

An experienced translator may choose to free-lance. While free-lancers must deal with clients, they can also make their own hours and demand a slightly higher salary. A free-lance translator may specialize in one or more areas if he or she has a fixed clientele, or may jump at any text that comes his or her way. While less secure, this kind of environment is one of the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding.

Various international organizations or businesses offer staff positions for translators. With advantages such as a fixed salary, benefits, travel opportunities, and possibilities for promotion, these jobs are often highly competitive, and regarded as more prestigious, so you tend to have to already have built up a professional reputation in order to be considered for the position. At the same time, a staff translator does not choose the documents to be translated, and only in rare occasions will the subject matter of these materials vary. So while this role can tend to get very tedious, one perk exists in being able to consult with colleagues without leaving the work-place.

The following are a few tips novice translators should keep in mind:

*A translator can never rest, for language evolves and changes. New words arise every day, and in order to be great at your job, you need to stay up to date with the current colloquialisms, not just in your own language, but the one you’re translating from as well.

*Read as much as you can in your target language(s). This will help to familiarize you with the current terms being used, and will help you to be more familiar with popular sayings or phrases.

*Be sure to read a text before you agree to translate it. You may find that you know nothing about a specific topic when you accept a document that you are expected to translate accurately. You may not have the required time to research the topic in order to translate it accurately.

*When a client gives you a document to translate, it is due yesterday. More often than not, people don’t realize the time it takes to translate a document accurately. And even if translation agencies do, their clients do not. The deadline is always the deadline.

*A translator is only as good as his/her last job. If you make a mistake on your last project, whether in terms of accuracy or missing a deadline, no matter how many projects you completed successfully, that last mess up is what they will remember when they have the next project to assign.


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Tutorials » What Every Novice Translator Needs to Know